Oldest cultivated plant for products
Cannabis sativa
China ()
Amongst the world's oldest cultivated plants that are used primarily for products such as clothing and medicine is the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). It was first cultivated in China 5,000 years ago; indeed the earliest documented example is a 6,000 year-old piece of cloth, made from hemp fibre and discovered amongst ancient human habitat sites in Asia. Hemp fabrics dated to the 8th century BC have also been unearthed in Ankara, Turkey. The hemp culture of, mainly eastern Asia, saw the cannabis fibre being used for clothing, ropes, marine cordage, fishing nets, sails and even paper. In addition, its medicinal properties have been respected for hundreds of years as a painkiller and sedative. Between 110 and 207 AD, a Chinese surgeon, Hua T'o, boiled hemp mixed with wine to anesthetise patients prior to operations. Hemp oil is also commonly used in the manufacture of soaps and paints. Due to its other by-product, the drug marijuana, it is currently illegal to grow and sell cannabis in many countries.